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Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon

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4.53  ·  Rating details ·  5,019 ratings  ·  803 reviews
The inside, lesser-known story of NASA's boldest and riskiest mission: Apollo 8, mankind's first journey to the Moon on Christmas in 1968. A riveting account of three heroic astronauts who took one of the most dangerous space flights ever, from the New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers.

In early 1968, the Apollo program was on shaky footing. President
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Random House
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Sherri It doesn't necessarily add anything to the story of going to the moon, but it definitely does a great job just setting the context of the time and the…moreIt doesn't necessarily add anything to the story of going to the moon, but it definitely does a great job just setting the context of the time and the accomplishment much better than Kluger's book did. (As someone who did not live through the time, I have very much enjoyed the weaving the tale of American history with the personal story of going to the moon)(less)
Kath Yes. All three astronauts are still alive, and did an onstage interview at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in April 2018. They are all…moreYes. All three astronauts are still alive, and did an onstage interview at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in April 2018. They are all still spry and lively!(less)

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Angela M
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I don’t read very many nonfiction books and I haven’t listened to many audiobooks, but I’m sure that this one will remain one of my favorites in both categories. Before I listened to this book, when I thought of space missions and the moon, I thought of the moon landing and Apollo 11 - the planting of the American flag, Neil Armstrong’s comment “....one giant step for mankind.” While I remember Apollo 8, I had no idea of it’s importance in laying the groundwork for future missions. While I ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
Space, planets, NASA are not usually subjects to which I gravitate .So why then did I not want this book to end, finished it ready eyes and gave it all the stars? Well for one, I'm firmly convinced this author cannot write a bad book, can make any subject interesting. It's also because though this is about Apollo 8, it is also about real men, their wives, families and our country in the tumultuous year of 1968.

Kurson includes the three astronauts backgrounds, their training, their flight, but
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Dem
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Dem by: Diane S ☔
Absolutely loved this book. A meticulous, uplifting (pardon the pun) and beautifully written account of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts who made Man’s first Journey to the moon

I knew when one of my friends here at Goodreads whose reviews I respect and love reviewed and rated this book 5 stars that it was one I wanted to get my hands on sooner rather than later and was so happy to have sourced this one on Audible.

I read this along with my husband and we discussed and marvelled over the details
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Martin
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before Apollo Eleven landed on the Moon astronauts had to prove they could actually get there.
This was the record breaking mission of Apollo Eight.

description

The first men who;
left Earth's orbit,
flew to the Moon,
orbited the Moon,
saw the far-side,
mapped the landing site,
and returned safely to Earth.


description

The year 1968 was a disaster for America and the world. Dissent, revolution, the assassinations of Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the unraveling of Vietnam, the riots in Chicago - all were pulling the
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Chrissie
I went into this book with hesitation—spacecraft and rockets are not my usual cup of tea. Understanding so little about them, I feared I would either be bored stiff or totally lost, confused by technical terms that would go over my head. I was neither bored nor confused. The book is directed toward the layman and SO exciting you simply do not want to put it down. Give the book a bit of time. Don’t even consider dropping the book until December 21, 1968, and the launching of the rocket. During ...more
Cindy Burnett
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rocket Men is the masterfully depicted tale of the three courageous astronauts who pioneered humankinds’ first trip to the moon and the NASA engineers and other employees who made such a journey possible. 1968 was a tumultuous year in the United States with the escalation of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F Kennedy, Nixon’s election as President, and massive protests and riots happening throughout the country. Meanwhile, the Soviet/United States space ...more
Char
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing story, made even more amazing by Ray Porter's excellent narration.

I can't help but feel that, much like 1968 when this tale took place, we need this kind of patriotic, inspiring story to get us through this tough time.

(And then I see something like this proposed Trump July 4th parade, and I think to myself, this is NOT what we need right now.)

Sorry to get political. These men were patriots, they were brave and they were Americans. It was a pleasure to learn more about them.
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
Comprehensive story, but I think I should have had a paper copy. The audio didn’t keep my attention.
Kend
How is it even possible to make a book about space that I don't love? Here are some ways:

- Continuous, unrepentant use of idioms and clichés. If you're quoting someone or deliberately reflecting the patterns of speech of your subjects (think Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff ) that's one thing. If you're reaching for the easiest phrase in the phrasebook, that's ... lazy. This was definitely not the former.

- Indistinguishable voices. Every line of this book felt uniform in tone and pattern. This
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Dave
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kurson's incredible book "Rocket Men" tells one of the greatest stories of adventure in the modern age, a story that captivated not just the nation, but the entire world. It's the story of the race to the moon. If you loved The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, you'll love this book. After the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race had begun and, although John Kennedy set getting to the moon within ten years as a goal, it almost didn't happen. Growing up, we all knew the names of the three astronauts ...more
Scott
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
1968 - America was not having a particularly good year. Whether it was the surprise Tet Offensive, the capture of the USS Pueblo, the riots in the streets of Chicago during the DNC, or the double-tragedy of the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, many headline news stories were often casting a fairly bleak view for the country. But in the final weeks there was a story that, if only for a few brief moments, raised the spirits for some of the nation during the holiday season.

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Jeff
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Apollo 8 was the first time human beings traveled beyond Earth orbit and through deep space to another world - three astronauts traveled to the moon and made ten orbits before returning to the Earth. Rocket Men is a fantastic recounting of this mission and the stories of the three astronauts that pulled it off: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. Despite the fact that the Apollo 8 mission took place during late December 1968 and was soon overshadowed by Apollo 11’s moon landing mission in ...more
Jason
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 is a very compelling narrative history of the first and very risky journey of man leaving earth to orbit the moon. Kurson, like in his previous work, Shadow Divers, delves deeply into the context of a singular event, and makes the unique fit into the larger history.

With Rocket Men, the primary focus is on astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. While appropriate attention is devoted to their three families back in Houston, events in
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Christopher
Short version: Wow, what a surprise.

In 2018, the 50th anniversary year after the flight of Apollo 8, I resolved to reread the two books devoted to the subject—Robert Zimmerman's Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8, The First Manned Flight to Another World, and Jeffrey Kluger's Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon.

To space fans, Apollo 8 is probably the least celebrated of the great spaceflights of the cold war. There wasn't a book devoted to covering the flight until
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Carly Friedman
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Kurson did an amazing job describing multiple aspects of the Apollo 8 mission. The book describes the background of the three astronauts: Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders. We also learn about how they were selected, the training and other preparation for the mission, and their wives and families. I loved the chapters that summarized the political and social environment during that time period. The description of the mission had me on the edge of my seat ...more
Ben
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: space
The story of Apollo 8, the first manned trip to and around the Moon. For example, Bill Anders took his famous Earthrise photo in orbit around the Moon. There's very little new information here, but it is a good story.

Kurson's angle seems to have been to interview each of the astronauts and their families, so we hear about their thoughts, and family and marital problems. That's fine. There are extended biographical sketches of each astronaut. The book gives a good sense of the atmosphere for the
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Linden
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John F. Kennedy had promised to put a man on the moon before the end of the 1960’s and after his assassination, Lyndon Johnson supported this unlikely goal. The USA had a tremendous desire to win the space race, however, and against all odds, Apollo 8 was conceived and implemented, some said too quickly. Astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Anders went on the historic Christmas 1968 mission to orbit the moon, and after a terrible year of riots, carnage in Vietnam, and assassinations of two beloved ...more
Laurens Ter Heegde
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has been one of the most thrilling reads of my life. Kurson managed to draw me into the command module and make me feel like I was there together with Borman, Lovell and Anders. The narrative extensively treats the context of the mission in relation to the tensions that were troubling the United States in 1968. Since I was born over three decades after the events, this greatly helped in explaining the motives behind taking the gigantic risks involved with the mission. The story conveys ...more
Janine
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So incredible! Much like with Shadow Divers and Pirate Hunters, I became fully immersed in the world of Rocket Men. Kurson has made me interested in topics I would have otherwise ignored: deep sea diving, the Golden Age of piracy, and NASA. The writing is stunning and the Epilogue left me weeping—his Author’s Note at the end is one of my favorites ever. Now....I wish he’d pen a tale about lesser-known women :)
Victoria
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned, netgalley
This is an excellent read and I think most with an interest in anything space will really enjoy it. For me, perhaps it's because I've read SO much about the space program, I found it it to be somewhat pedestrian. I didn't find too much here that I didn't already know something about and didn't think this telling brought that much new to the story.
Cynda
Very accessible for just about anyone interested in the topic.

I got to meet the astronauts,to meet their families of origin and generation, and to get a glimpse of what life was like on board Apollo 8. All of this written in a way that read like a novel--somethung important to many many readers.

I just wanted more technology and science. I will take less readability almost any day if I can get the information.

Overall: Enjoyable and Informative.
Jim
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I give Kurson's latest book ***** because it's an important story and an exciting one and told in a very compelling way. The main part of the book focuses on the three astronauts who were the first to go to the Moon--not to land on it, but orbit it--and those were the three men of Apollo 8- Borman, Lovell, and Anders. Kurson gives us a succinct background to Apollo, which was the Cold War and Kennedy's commitment to send men to the moon by the end of the 1960s. What I did NOT know about Apollo ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advance-read, history
Rocket Men is a record of America's space program's efforts to beat the Soviets in getting to the moon. It mentions Apollo 1 disaster that took three lives and caused the acceleration of American efforts. Apollo 8's entire workup and mission is laid out. This is a decent work about space exploration and NASA. My copy was a free review copy through Goodreads.com.
Dax
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, nonfiction
Kurson keeps it simple in this telling of the Apollo 8 mission. While this book will inevitably suffer from comparison to "The Right Stuff," our first trip to the moon is such a fantastic story that Kurson really didn't need to dress it up. The author deserves credit for being able to explain the significance of the event and the healing power it provided our country at the conclusion of a very trying year. At times the narrative gets a little cheesy, but the flaws of this book are of the ...more
Bill Shannon
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read my share of books about NASA and the space program, and while most of them consider the 1969 Moon Landing to be the apex of the early program's accomplishments, it seems like the 1968 Apollo 8 mission -- the first to go around the moon without actually landing on it -- might be the more galvanizing of the two. I'd have to say this is probably the best book I've read so far about space exploration.

The flight of Apollo 8 was the first time that humans left the earth's gravitational pull
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KatieSuzanne
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
This was such an amazing book and story. It was before my time, but not that much before, and I had no clue about any of this stuff. It's crazy how quickly things are lost. The story telling of everyone involved and the state of the country at the time was incredible. I had a friend in my car that listened to a half hour of the audiobook with me while they were in orbit and he had to borrow it and listen to the whole thing afterwards. The audiobook had a bit at the end by the author talking ...more
Gloria Bartelt
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This author blended the personal lives of the astronauts, the scientific accuracy of the mission, and the intrigue and risk of the mission to form a most exhilarating historical perspective of the accomplishment of Apollo 8. The addition of the description of the political and social arena during this mission added to the sense that you were re-living this historical feat. Everyone should read this.
James
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was like no other non-fiction I have ever read. It read like any fiction book, with tons of plots and twists and always full of anticipation. I read this in 2 days while on vacation. I look forward to reading many more books from this author, starting with "Shadow Divers".

If you have any interest at all in what it took to put a man on the moon and the significance of the Kennedy era space race I cannot recommend a better book. This was a fantastic read.
Joan Barnett
I really liked this book! I learned a lot!! Great story and information
Jeffrey
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Apollo 8 was likely the most important and dramatic Apollo mission, even though they didn't land on the Moon. It was a controversial rush job to beat the Russians in the "space race" and make it to the Moon on a manned flight. Shortcuts were taken and so the mission was riskier than normal. It's a great story of American determination, ingenuity and know-how, and it's just what the country needed in a chaotic 1969. I wonder if this country could pull off ...more
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Robert Kurson is an American author, best known for his bestselling book, "Shadow Divers," the true story of two Americans who discover a sunken World War II German U-boat and for "Crashing Through," the story of an entrepreneur who regains his eyesight after a lifetime of blindness.

Kurson began his career as an attorney, graduating from Harvard Law School and practicing real estate law. His
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“After the meal, Borman dropped me off at my hotel, then went to visit his wife at the nursing home where she lives. As he drove away, it seemed to me strange—I felt I’d come to know Susan as well as I had Frank, despite having met her for just a few minutes, despite the fact that she had been too ill to speak. When I returned home and transcribed the tapes of my interviews, I understood why. Borman spoke of Susan constantly; there didn’t seem an aspect of his life he could explain without discussing how much she meant to him or how much he loved her. I’d heard the same from Lovell and Anders about their wives. When I discovered that Apollo 8 was the only crew in which all the marriages survived (astronaut careers were notoriously hard on marriages) it didn’t surprise me. In a singularly beautiful story, it seemed only fitting that the first men to leave Earth considered home to be the most important place in the universe.” 4 likes
“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” Texas senator Lyndon Baines Johnson was” 2 likes
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